April 28th 2012

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Articles from this issue:

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Same-sex marriage: attack on religious freedom and parents' rights

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Can the Greens survive Brown's departure?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Craig Thomson affair discredits Labor government

EDITORIAL: Fretilin defeated in East Timor's presidential poll


CLIMATE CHANGE: Bureau's flawed forecasts undermine climate credibility

ENERGY: Government suppresses warning of energy crisis

SCHOOLS: Rediscovering the lost tools of learning

ILLICIT DRUGS: Drugs war needs a new approach

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Extent of China's leadership crisis becoming evident

UNITED NATIONS: Indispensable role of pro-life NGOs at UN forums

SOCIETY: Married parents the key to college success

HISTORY: Richard Dawkins: "Hitler was a Catholic"

ART & CIVILISATION: War on art: some thoughts on Damien Hirst

OPINION: Australia's shrinking food and manufacturing sectors


CINEMA: Gruesome possibilities for reality TV

BOOK REVIEW War in the classroom

BOOK REVIEW Was the White Star Line's CEO a coward?

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Same-sex marriage: attack on religious freedom and parents' rights

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, April 28, 2012

Alongside their push for same-sex marriage, radical gay and lesbian organisations have told an Attorney-General’s inquiry that they oppose any exemptions for churches and schools under new anti-discrimination legislation.

It is clear that the strategy of these groups is to have the federal government introduce same-sex marriage, then to use planned new anti-discrimination legislation to force compliance on church organisations and schools.

Their intention is to muzzle churches and require primary and secondary schools, and even kindergartens, to teach children about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual lifestyles and that having two mothers or two fathers is no different from having a mother and a father.

Effectively, the federal government is considering enacting two revolutionary changes to Australian law, with the potential to catch religious-based organisations, schools and community groups in a pincer.

First, there are three current bills for same-sex marriage, one before the Senate and two more before the House of Representatives. A fourth bill is expected later in the year.

Second, the federal Attorney-General’s Department is currently holding an inquiry into consolidating the Commonwealth’s four separate anti-discrimination laws[1] — the Racial Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Disability Discrimination and Age Discrimination acts — as well as the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 and provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. 

While the Attorney-General’s position paper says that the new consolidated anti-discrimination laws will provide exemptions for churches and other organisations, many gay and lesbian organisations have told the inquiry they are opposed to any exemptions, and demand the imposition of draconian restrictions if exemptions are allowed.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) represents the AIDS councils in each state and territory, which together represent 1,039 AIDS, drug-injecting, Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander and sex-worker organisations.[2]

The AFAO said in its submission[3] to the Attorney General’s inquiry: “Religious organisations are now contracted to administer government-funded services to the public, and so, like [the] rest of Commonwealth services, should be bound by anti-discrimination laws.

“We therefore call for the removal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexuality — particularly in relation to employment, and the provision of health and community services, including aged-care.” (p.3).

To that end the AFAO recommended “that there be no religious exemptions in the new consolidated anti-discrimination law”.

AFAO had one qualification: “If the religious exemptions are to remain in place, we propose that religious organisations be required to register their intent to discriminate with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and to publicly declare that intent in public messaging and advertising.” (p.5).

The National GLBTI Health Alliance has 68 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex national and state member organisations.[4] Recommendation 5 in its submission[5] to the Attorney General’s inquiry said: “Religious bodies should not be granted exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation for their activities in the provision of services, such as aged care, health services, and education.

“If, however, they are to be granted exemptions, they should have to lodge a claim in writing with the [Australian Human Rights] Commission which should be displayed on the claimant’s website and in other promotional material so that any potential employee, recipient of services, or other person interacting with the body may be duly alerted to the body’s intended practices of discrimination.” (p.11).

The Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby said in its submission[6] to the Attorney General’s inquiry: “The VGLRL would oppose any exemption that permitted religious bodies to discriminate against people in employment matters; in the provision of public services using public funds; in the course of education, including primary schools, secondary schools and universities; in the provision of welfare and healthcare services including hospitals, healthcare clinics and aged care facilities; in the provision of commercial services such as accommodation; in commerce and in other similar areas.” (p.2).

These groups are backed by the Australian Education Union, which represents 186,000 primary, secondary and pre-school teachers. Its Policy on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People (2006) says: “Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and intersex need to be normalised” in the education system.[7]

Given the stand of these GLBTI organisations, and how the Victorian Brumby Labor government began winding back exemption clauses for church-based organisations in state anti-discrimination law in 2010, the federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s assurances that the new anti-discrimination laws will provide effective, lasting exemptions clauses for churches and schools remain unconvincing.

Australian Marriage Equality’s claim[8] that, if same-sex marriage is legalised, it will be “possible for charities and schools to seek exemptions should the need arise”, also rings hollow.

The push for same-sex marriage and more powerful anti-discrimination laws is a radical social engineering strategy for attacking religious freedom and denying parents and schools the right to determine the education of children.

Patrick J. Byrne is vice-president of the National Civic Council.


Endnotes and references:

[1]    Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Laws (Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra, ACT).
URL: www.ag.gov.au/Humanrightsandantidiscrimination/Pages/ConsolidationofCommonwealthantidiscriminationlaws.aspx

[2]    Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFOA).
URL: www.afao.org.au/who-we-are

[3]   Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), Discussion Paper on Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Laws, Submission to the Attorney General’s Department, January 27, 2012.
URL: www.ag.gov.au/Humanrightsandantidiscrimination/Pages/ConsolidationofCommonwealthantidiscriminationlaws.aspx

[4]   The National GLBTI Health Alliance.
URL: www.lgbtihealth.org.au/members#national

[5]    The National LGBTI Health Alliance, Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department in response to the Discussion Paper (September 2011) on the Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-discrimination laws, February 1, 2012.
URL: www.ag.gov.au/Humanrightsandantidiscrimination/Pages/ConsolidationofCommonwealthantidiscriminationlaws.aspx

[6]   The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Right’s Lobby, Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department in response to the Discussion Paper (September 2011) on the Consolidation of Commonwealth Anti-discrimination laws, February 1, 2012.
URL: www.ag.gov.au/Humanrightsandantidiscrimination/Pages/ConsolidationofCommonwealthantidiscriminationlaws.aspx

[7] Policy on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People, as adopted at the 2006 annual federal conference of the Australian Education Union (AEU), page 6.
URL: www.aeuvic.asn.au/gay_lesbian_bisexual_transgender_and_intersex_people_2006.pdf

[8] “Marriage equality will violate religious freedom”, Australian Marriage Equality statement, February 17, 2012.
URL: www.australianmarriageequality.com/wp/faq/4-marriage-equality-will-violate-religious-freedom/

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